PESHAWAR: Following a deadlock between local administration and Nanbai Association in a meeting here on Sunday over fixation of new price of roti in wake of increase in flour prices, the latter announced to go on strike for indefinite period on Monday (today).

Nanbai Association local president Khaista Gul told Dawn that a meeting with administration was held at the commissioner office wherein nanbais were allowed to sell a 115-gram roti at Rs10 and 170-gram roti at Rs15 but the revised price would not be notified.

“We sought issuance of official notification because the consumers are not ready to pay the new price,” he said. He added that the administration declined to notify it and as result the meeting failed to resolve the issue.

Mr Gul said that government had notified 130-gram roti for Rs10 at a time when 85-kilogram fine flour was available at Rs4,100.

“Now the price of the same quantity of flour has been increased to Rs5,100. In the prevailing situation nanbais cannot run their business and it is better to shut their shops,” he added.

However, Provincial Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai said that the demands of nanbais were unjustified as government lifted the ban and ensured supply of flour from Punjab to KP. He claimed that the commodity was available in abundance in the market.

Minister terms demands of nanbais unjustified, denies flour shortage

He said the price of flour was fixed by consumers committee after proper calculations and then nobody had the right to raise unjustified demands. He said that government could not put burden on people.

The minister urged the nanbais to avoid going on strike. He said that after acceptance of nanbais’ demands regarding supply of flour from Punjab, the strike would not be more than blackmailing.

However, Mr Gul told Dawn that sale of local flour through trucks would not help to control the crisis as the consumers were not ready to purchase the ‘sub-standard’ flour. He said that instead of increasing wheat quota to local mills, the government should ensure smooth supply of lour from Punjab to KP.

Haji Iqbal, the president of another faction of Nanbai Association, claimed that the commissioner had sought one week time for resolving the issue, but nanbais declined his request as they could no longer sustain the financial losses. He said that they would go ahead with the already given strike call on Monday.

Sadaqatullah Khan, the spokesperson for Peshawar Wholesale Food Grain Dealers and General Merchants Association, told Dawn that following the intervention of provincial government, the supply of lour from Punjab was restored to some extent but the truckers had to pass through checkpoints and pay bribe.

He said that there was no shortage of flour in Punjab but the crisis seemed artificial. He urged the government to remove the checkpoints and take action against the Punjab food department officials, who were collecting money from the truck drivers.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan has directed the provincial and district administrations throughout the province to take actions against hoarders, stockiest and artificial price rise of essential food items, especially flour.

According to a statement, he directed all the deputy commissioners to take action against the people by sending teams in field to discourage hoarding of essential items, especially wheat products.

The chief minister issued these directives following media reports and public complaints about the artificial hike in price of flour and other food items. He directed the quarters concerned to immediately convene meetings of consumers committee and hold regular meetings of the committee to take steps for price control of flour and other commodities of daily use.

He said that daily reports about the overall market situation and stability of prices of flour and other food items should be shared with the performance management and reforms unit (PMRU) for onward transmission to the chief minister.

The statement said that the chief minister was personally monitoring the situation.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2020